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Papaya Rains – yes!!! Just when the well was going dry.

Peter of the Used bookstore tells a funny hot-season story. Ever notice how some people would rather be in their car than at home? It’s more comfortable, lavish, and oriented to personal comfort. Easy to change tunes, control temperature, adjust the seat, be amused. No need to actually approach a destination… So, people are happy to spend time in their car, and sometimes use their kids’ education as an excuse. When kids are dropped off for after-school tutoring, a parent may wait in the car, in the shade. But once Peter was coming on his bicycle down a hot alley, and this lady is driving on the wrong side, coming right at him. He yells at her , in Thai, “You’re on the wrong side, what do you think you’re doing?” and gets a succinct, cogent reply: “Rawn!!!” Peter’s side was in the shade (and being in the more expensive vehicle, she of course expected him to make way).

Luxuriating with a foot massage at Pai Massage (across from the Thai Military Bank by Bo’s Place) I watched a TV show about the ChiangSaen apple boats. It started with where the cargo started from – well, where the apple boxes are made, so I told the masseuses how New Years oranges are sold B10/kilo but in kilo boxes that sell, just the box, for B20, so when you give the oranges as a gift you’ve paid more for the picture of oranges, picture of the gift, that is, than the actual… well, never-mind. We watched in amazement as the show showed apples from China gothrough ChiangSaen to Bangkok and then get trucked back up to Undo-thani, from whence – wait for it – they actually go once again for a Mekong boat ride, this time to Laos! And still somehow sell for B5. By now I was commenting on how apples and the delicious Sali fruit is cheaper in Mae Jan than off the docks at ChiangSaen, something I’ve long wondered at. Apples as a cover for smuggling? Well, fruit is used in Garcia-Marquez’s “Innocent Erendera”… and to interesting effect (both written story and movie, both wonderful)… But no. One of the masseuses quickly set me straight. Its stock rotation, proper marketing. The fresh fruit at ChiangSaen is worth more…!!! Oh. Wow.

Rats. Big wind, no rain. No more watering the lawn, it looks…

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Had a heavy shower here last night; settled the dust and cleared the air nicely. We're a bit higher up than Chiang Rai and about twenty kms south.

Interesting story about the fruit going from Chiang Saen to Udon, still I suppose you wouldn't get a rowboat down what's left of the Mekong after it leaves China at the moment.

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Hmmm... you may have a point there. Doesn't look so low to me, but the TV show showed the boat guys testing the river debths - pretty important, that, despite being like Mark Twain "Life on the Mississippi" stuff from way back over 100 years ago. But why does everything need to go to BKK? I've taken the bus to Udon - not easy, but still... I'm convinced the country would profit from being less BKK-centric, and am sure that sentiment is gaining recognition and popularity.

As for going from the upper-Mekong through Laos to east of Vientiane, well, there are new warnings out about violence on the highways.

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I was in Vientiane just before New Year and you could have waded across to Thailand in several places. I got the bus back to CR from Udon and it was fairly painless, about 12 hours overnight. I'm planning to take the car next time if I need to do visa stuff in Lao again, saw some great country I wouldn't have minded looking at a bit longer, even if it was dark.

I suppose that the BKK transport route is cheaper because it carries more traffic, direct to Udon over land might be a 'special'. Dunno, I was in transport for a while and they do some strange things; even in Farangistan.

I've done the bus from Vientiane to Loung Phrabang a couple of years ago, there were warnings out then, the Lao Army put them out in case anyone sees them murdering Hmong. Other than that it's usually only a little light banditry.

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